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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: Feathers
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1030  Friday, 4 May 2001

[1]     From:   Ann Carrigan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 03 May 2001 12:04:14 EDT
        Subj:   Re: Feathers (and stones)

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Thursday, 03 May 2001 14:07:59 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1018 Re: Feathers

[3]     From:   John Briggs <
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        Date:   Friday, 4 May 2001 09:07:31 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 12.1018 Re: Feathers


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ann Carrigan <
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Date:           Thursday, 03 May 2001 12:04:14 EDT
Subject:        Re: Feathers (and stones)

John Briggs <
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 > wrote:

>Just as this thread is dying, I have had a thought
>about the feathers!
>In the film "Shakespeare in Love" there is a fracas
>during a rehearsal at the Rose Theatre, involving
>swords and pillows, culminating a snowstorm of
>feathers (white, of course).  Could this have
>provided the inspiration?

I don't have any expert information, but my gut reaction is, "probably
not." The device of having a "snowstorm of feathers" is good comedy --
it adds to the visual confusion of a fight scene, and I seem to recall
other instances in film and TV where pillows are split during
pillow-fights and bedroom scenes, having the same effect.

The lyrical quality of seeing one or a few feathers gracefully descend
to the ground in a *dramatic* gesture makes me think of another big
film, "Forrest Gump" -- although that feather that wafts in the opening
was, I read, done digitally.

I am not sure the material (feathers) was in any way as important as the
direction (The Fall), as the RSC productions used visual reminders of
ascent and descent so frequently. Feathers, I imagine, provided the best
visual for something to be seen wafting downward rather than plummeting.
I would love to hear Mr. Boyd's thoughts on this if anyone has that
connection, but the memory of the effect suits me best as "heaven's
helpless tears." Just as mercy "droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
/ Upon the place beneath," so does its opposite, I suppose -- vengeance.

Or -- and those who attended the performances, please help me remember
-- are those who received the shower of feathers ONLY those who were not
led off to the fiery pit?

By the way, I don't know what to make of this paragraph in the April 27
Guardian article, "A visionary 13 hours of the Bard" -
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4176489,00.html -

"Boyd and McArdle don't exculpate Richard; what they make clear is that
he is an outsider ("misshapen Dick") whose deformity has been a lifelong
source of mockery and who has grown up in a corrupt ethos of insatiate
crown-hunger. One touch brilliantly shows this. Clive Wood's Duke of
York earlier illustrates his claim to kingship with the aid of a bag of
stones; McArdle's Richard pathetically produces the self-same stones at
the very moment he is to lose both power and life."

In the U.S. production of Richard III, I don't remember a
reincorporation of the stones; however, with so much going on visually -
including the dramatic appearance of York's ghost with his grandsons - I
may have simply missed it. What I recall is the connection between
York's bag of stones and Margaret's bag of bones, similarly deployed to
illustrate wrongs of the past.

I don't suppose anyone here has seen both the Michigan performances AND
the London ones?

Peace and joy,
Ann Carrigan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 03 May 2001 14:07:59 -0400
Subject: 12.1018 Re: Feathers
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1018 Re: Feathers

A fairly unsophisticated solution to the conundrum runs like this:
Someone other than WS (Nashe or Greene, perhaps) wrote the blood and
thunder Talbot play (Henslowe's "harey vj").  Subsequently WS wrote the
Contention plays and achieved stage success with them.  Seeing a neat
opportunity to stage a "new" play having a proven audience appeal with a
minimum of effort, WS then revised the Talbot play into a prequel by
adding scenes which lead directly into the opening of what is now 2HVI,
particularly the Temple Garden scene, the Margaret-Suffolk scenes and
the last scene in the play.  Those scenes are far and away the best in
the play, and, to my ear, more "Shakespearean."  I realize that some
stylistic experts disagree that the Margaret-Suffolk scenes are by WS,
but they also conclude that the god-awful Talbot scenes are his.

In 1HVI,V.i Suffolk says:
                "She's beautiful, and therefore to be woo'd
                 She's a woman, therefore to be won."

The same aphorism is used or alluded to in two other plays written at
about the same time, it seems to have been a favorite of WS's at that
time: RIII,I.ii; TitAnd,II.i.  This is certainly not conclusive, but
does it not suggest that the Margaret-Suffolk scenes are Shakespearean?

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Briggs <
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Date:           Friday, 4 May 2001 09:07:31 +0100
Subject: 12.1018 Re: Feathers
Comment:        RE: SHK 12.1018 Re: Feathers

I was clearly over-optimistic in believing that this thread was dying...

I think Marcus has finally overwhelmed me with sheer mass of argument: I
can't possibly hope to sort out all the faults of fact or logic (I do
worry about the state of his computer programs: perhaps I should offer
to debug those as well?).  Rather than answer everything I shall just
address a few salient points:

1. Marcus' reference to the Stationer's Register seems to suggest some
horrible misunderstanding of the publishing process of the period in
general, and of the role of the Stationer's Register in particular.  I
can only refer him to: Peter W.M. Blayney, "The Publication of
Playbooks" in J.D. Cox & D.S. Kastan (Eds) A New History of Early
English Drama (Columbia UP, 1997).  Blayney explains it all so much
better than I can ever hope to!  (Blayney also says that "no aspect of
the Pollard mythology has generated as many inane conspiracy theories or
as much free-range guesswork as the question of entrances and
registers.")

2. If Marcus really believes that "the text which Pavier prints as The
Whole Contention contains some text (or seems to) from Folio 2 & 3 HVI
and not solely from the Quarto texts" perhaps he would be kind enough to
identify the relevant passages for us.  (Hint: don't believe everything
you read on title pages!)

3. Pembroke's Men are believed to be an "offshoot" of Strange's Men.

4. If Marcus really thinks that both 1 Contention and 2H6 "contain
references to the wearing of roses", perhaps he would be kind enough to
point out a few of those references.

5. My argument is that the wearing of roses is introduced in 1H6 in 1592
(i.e. after 2H6 & 3H6, but before 1 Contention & True Tragedy).  After
all, 'harey the vj' was performed at the Rose!

6. If Marcus' own analysis show that both 1H6 and R3 are closer to
Greene and Peele than are 2H6 and 3H6, why does he not consider that 1H6
and R3 could be close together in time?

7. I don't actually think that R3 was written before 1H6 - I just said
that it might have been.  The reasoning is that R3 appears to run on
directly after 3H6 (leaving no gap for 1H6).  On the other hand, if the
Richard soliloquies in 3H6 were written later (i.e. at the same time as
R3), then there could have been a gap between 3H6 and R3, during which
time Shakespeare could have collaborated on 1H6.  (Of course, this
assumes that R3 was written by Shakespeare and not by Green and
Peele...)

John Briggs

PS I have found another reference to a feather: Cade in 2H6.

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